LeGarrette Blount signed a one-year deal with the Eagles in May, and he's expected to take over as the starter. While it's hard to imagine Blount matching his 2016 production with the Patriots of 1,161 rushing yards and a league-best 18 touchdowns, this was as good a landing spot as he could have hoped for after a long free agency wait. The Eagles, who will likely release Ryan Mathews, have a roster full of smaller, faster running backs in Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey. What they were lacking is a battering ram to soften up the middle of defenses, and Blount fills that role perfectly. While there's still some uncertainty regarding the total number of touches Blount will receive, we view him as a No. 3 or No. 4 running back with No. 2 upside in standard leagues. He's worth a mid-round pick in all formats.
While there has been speculation of late regarding Blount's job security with the Eagles, coach Doug Pederson indicated Tuesday that the veteran back is in line to be a "big part of (the Philadelphia) offense,"Tim McManus of ESPN.com reports. Meanwhile, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero relays that Pederson described Blount, who is listed at 6-0, 250 pounds as "a beast of a runner." While Blount's team context is not nearly as favorable as it was in 2016, when he logged 18 rushing touchdowns for the Patriots, it appears as though he'll get the first crack at the Eagles' early-down/short-yardage duties, with Wendell Smallwood presumably on hand to work in a complementary/backup role and a combo of Donnel Pumphrey and Darren Sproles slotting in as pass-catching options.
Blount may not be a lock for the final roster, NJ.com's Matt Lombardo reports. Blount was always a questionable fit in coach Doug Pederson's offense, and the 30-year-old's modest contract would allow the Eagles to cut him without much pain. Blount has failed to impress while working strictly with the starting offense this preseason, taking nine carries for 17 yards. He still seems more likely than not to land on the final roster, as the Eagles don't have a clear alternative to handle short-yardage and clock-killing work. For Blount to truly become expendable, Wendell Smallwood (hamstring) would need to get healthy. The Philadelphia backfield likely will require careful monitoring throughout the rest of the preseason and into the regular season.
Blount got all the first-team reps in Thursday's preseason game against Buffalo, Mitchell Gladstone of CSN Philadelphia reports. Blount's presence on the field for passing downs made sense with both Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood (hamstring) held out, as the Eagles probably don't want to task 175-pound Donnel Pumphrey or undrafted rookie Corey Clement with pass protecting for their franchise quarterback. Blount took advantage of the opportunity by catching two passes for 15 yards, though he also lost a fumble and had five carries for only eight yards, including multiple outside runs. His usage in this game was much different from what can be expected once Sproles and Smallwood are available.
Blount rushed four times for nine yards in Thursday's preseason game versus the Packers. Blount's four carries all came on Philadelphia's 60-yard touchdown drive to start the contest. After that, the veteran made way for some of the Eagles' young tailbacks, ensuring he stays fresh at this early stage in the campaign.
Blount has been working as Eagles' starting running back during training camp, Dave Spadaro of the Eagles' official site reports. Blount missed three days of practice last week due to an undisclosed injury, and even though Wendell Smallwood is said to have taken advantage of added reps in Blount's absence, the veteran reclaimed his role on the first-team offense upon returning to action Friday. After leading the league with 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 as a member of the Patriots, Blount is projected to head Philadelphia's ground attack, with Smallwood serving as a change-of-pace option and Darren Sproles seeing most of his touches as a receiver out of the backfield.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/17||@Kansas City Chiefs||17||17.59|
|3||09/24||New York Giants||7||14.88|
|4||10/01||@Los Angeles Chargers||26||19.88|
|8||10/29||San Francisco 49ers||32||27.13|
|14||12/10||@Los Angeles Rams||14||16.63|
|15||12/17||@New York Giants||7||14.88|
|3 Year Avg||196||804||10||8||45||0||144|